New year, new forecast. Here’s a list of e-commerce trends that I see for 2017. Ecommerce is the fastest growing industries in the world, constantly changing and evolving with new technology and changes in consumer behaviour. But this year, I feel like trends might not be the right term as we’ve seen and heard it all before. But needless to say, it’s as important as ever.
“Mobile” has been on these lists for, what, four years now? But repetition doesn’t mean it is not as valid, because mobile keeps getting bigger. Mobile traffic is now bigger than desktop on the web. Google’s mobile-first-index is live. You not only need an optimized “mobile experience”, you need to put mobile first. Study after study show that mobile is attracting more ecommerce traffic than ever before. Yet, smartphone conversion still lags behind that of desktop. Up until now, most of the ecommerce activity on mobiles can be seen to be “pre-shopping” – that is discovery and browsing. According to Google, 60 percent of online conversions start on one device and end on another. Which means mobile, while perhaps not the leader in terms of conversion, often plays a critical role in the first step of your customer’s journey.
Personalisation & Data.
With more data available, this allows businesses to tailor advertisements, content, and specific products to particular customers. The amount of data available increasingly allows content, ads, and products to be shown to the right people at the right time. What’s new? Customers have been exposed to personalised experiences from services like Netflix and Amazon. Now we have come to expect the same level of personalisation in our online shopping experience. We see targeted product reviews and recommendations, targeted marketing and re-marketing gathered from behavioural data. For example, personalised deals on popular products that a specific customers buy often, or combinations of targeted ads and re-marketing on product level.
Free shipping, timing & fast delivery.
We see higher demands on delivery and returns in general, especially when it comes to time and fees. Delivery must be fast, cheap and easy – now including the return process. There’s a big increase in fast shipping methods, like same day deliveries, home delivery and services like Urbit. 29% of consumers would be willing to pay more for same-day delivery. 44% of consumers abandon their shopping carts if the delivery is too expensive. Free shipping is so important that 58% of shoppers are willing to add more items to cart to qualify for free delivery and 83% are willing to wait longer for the items to arrive to their homes. The customers almost always expect free shipping and complimentary return shipping – but most importantly no hidden fees.
The post-purchase experience.
Navar recently posted this study on shopping preferences, saying that almost half of online customers worry about their packages being damaged in transit, and an almost equal percentage (42%) don’t believe their packages will be delivered on time. While many focus on personalisation and optimizing the actual purchase journey, they shouldn’t forget the overall customer experience. According to this study, a major part lies within the post-purchase experience and the actual customer interaction:
“When asked what information would make them more satisfied with a purchase, 61% of people said ‘a simple thank you’ matters most, more so than including personalized recommendations, information on how to use the product better, or examples of how others are using the product.”
The end of Black Friday.
Simple as that, it’s now Cyber November, and it’s all online. We’ve seen it this past year, and we’re likely to see it again in 2017: the lines between Black Friday and Cyber Monday are getting blurry, and all shopping holidays move online.
In the past couple of months I’ve been involved in several different on page optimization projects with my clients and one thing is for sure – SEO is as important as ever. But it’s as ever-changing as always. What does SEO even mean? Not the abbreviation itself but its purpose for our business and for our users. The bottom line will always be this (borrowed from MOZ):
What we are trying to do is fulfill the searcher’s goal and satisfy their intent. So there’s an intent behind every search query. I’m seeking some information. I’m seeking to accomplish a task. Oftentimes, that initial intent is different from the final goal that someone might have.
How you get there is the challenge. But no worries – I’ve collected s short (but good) list to catch up on the changes of SEO in 2016 to get you back on track:
I’ve mentioned venture capitalist Mary Meeker before and now it’s time again. Her annual presentation covering internet growth, digital trends and marketing was released the other day and here is what I’m taking with me:
Here’s the full PDF. What do you think?
Speaking of digital trends, I just came across this e-commerce marketing guide from Veeqo. They’ve summarized eight strategies for paid online channels for 2016 that you can use for your online business. Some may work perfect for you, other won’t – take a little time to think what’s relevant for you and make it count.
Read the post What are the best marketing options in 2016 and what can I do? here!
This year has not started out strong blog wise for, but I though I’d post a few thoughts on what’s ahead for 2016. In short, we will see much more money invested in digital marketing. That means all areas: Search, Mobile, Social, Display and Video. This is just a few areas that I think will be most important. Brief, but important – the ones that have the biggest impact on your online business. Now’s the time to think about how this can integrated into the digital marketing strategies, instead of doing it halfway through 2016.
Mobile’s continued dominance over desktop
The dominance of mobile traffic is now a fact. In 2016, we’ll see a continued strong growth in mobile use (which Mary Meeker’s pointed our in the annual mobile trends round-up). To no surprise, the use of mobile marketing will continue to be one of key trends to follow in 2016.
Creating personalized content
The only way to make consumers engage and interact with your content is solution based personalization. Making this effort, you can expect an increase of sales, higher interaction (time spent on page) and more happy customers. The key is that you take the time to research your consumers’ needs. This may well begin by drawing out buyer profiles and knowing consumer demographics, and behavioral preferences. One size does not fit all.
Understanding micro targeting
Targeting niche audience sizes and making use of data led advertising tools bringing in more effective results from campaigns. Targeting has evolved a lot in 2015, so it comes as no surprise that businesses are making targeting strategies more elaborately than ever. Speaking of personalization, I mean.
Being global, not local
You competition is no longer just local. Most online businesses sell their goods world-wide just a click away. You need to optimize for your key markets, find your customers where they are and look for new, innovative solutions to satisfy their needs. Wherever they are. 2016 is not the year to think small because no one else is.
Paying for Social
We might still think that our personal, social networks are just that – personal. But this is no longer the case. Brands and companies is already treating Facebook and Twitter like the great paid channels that they have evolved into, finding their customers where they interact with each other and share their personal interest and preferences. Targeting them has never been easier – “social” will now become an even larger piece of the bought digital budget.
Increasing digital marketing budgets
Over the past few years online marketing has grown more and more competitive, a trend that will continue in 2016. Companies are expected to spend $10 billion more on all areas of digital marketing than they did in 2015.
This season is actually the first I’ve tried doing online marketing campaigns for both Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It was fun, so I thought I’d share my results. I did a few different campaigns for different objectives, working especially with email marketing and Google’s (text) Ads. One of them was a simple 3 for 2 discount on all products with a unique promo code.
And the results? I was surprised to see that the conversion rate increased by 1.5%. So did the traffic. And the revenue. We barely lost any profits since the offer just topped of our regular multi-buy offer (no scam, obviously). The weekly turnover doubled. First, for the week ending with Black Friday. Then, the week starting Cyber Monday. Why? Because we managed to reach both old and new customers with an offer just as good for both segments. We reached our loyal customers who likes our stuff and wants more, we reached spontaneous shoppers who like a good deal and we caught the ones who missed out on Black Friday, and have them come back for Cyber Monday. Or for more, it seems. Because the very best part is that the traffic and sales continue to increase steadily. Did I mention that these two days were part of a holiday email marketing series? This means that we keep offering good news and offers. So far so good.
Here’s a very brief list of what I did:
Integrated both Black Friday and Cyber Monday in a series of holiday newsletters (that was of coursed cross-posted in all social media) and scheduled them for 23.59. I also set up reminder automations for unpoens (a bit risky, but worth it if you’re usually non-spammy)
Separate, branded campaigns promoting the offers and adding a text add-on on all campaigns scheduled only for Black Friday Cyber Monday.
Overlay/pop-up with the offer for all new visitors, not coming from any of the sources above and offering them even better deals if they sign up for newsletter.
Even if you don’t have a big budget, I’d definitely suggest to spend it on limited offers like these. They drive traffic and they convert like crazy. We’ve had similar deals before – we even have a permanent multi-buy offer that’s pretty generous to begin with. But people buy, because they want to buy. And they want to wait until Black Friday, or Cyber Monday, then Cyber November. That’s what marketing does. Another post of how to keep (and care for) your customers after the holidays is coming up.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two typically american shopping holidays we’ve started to adapting to internationally. Black Friday is always the Friday immediately after Thanksgiving, and is sort of the official start to the Christmas Shopping Season (although we know that that’s already started…). Black Friday started way back in 1960’s, but is now kicking it online too with just as crazy sales and offers, getting crazier each season. In 2015, it’s predicted to be the be the biggest day of spending on the internet — ever.
There’s also Cyber Monday, Black Friday’s shopping companion, which is the Monday that follows Black Friday. The two have started blended together and creating Black November – a month filled of crazy pre-Black Friday shopping deals. Needless to say, these two shopping holidays are a great opportunity for any business to, well, make money. And when it comes to holiday shopping, it’s all about the deals. The good news for shoppers is that those deals are being offered earlier and earlier. The search – we know – starts online:
The top questions people were asking about Black Friday on Google in 2014:
What time do stores open on Black Friday
What time does Black Friday start
When does Black Friday end
What to buy on Black Friday
Source: Google data, November 2014.
With Black Friday now just a day away, you need to have everything in place. There’s really no reason to wait for Friday to take care of your online holiday shopping. Don’t know where to start? Look at Shopify’s excellent 26 Point Checklist!
It’s that time of year again. If you’re an online retailer, the time to think about the holidays is now. Most shoppers do their research online and they’re getting more prepared each year. In 2014, it turned out that more than half of the shoppers began their christmas shopping as early as October – and also planning to do part of the gift buying online. Many customers don’t only turn online for the comfort, but are also looking for ideas and inspiration what to get their loved ones. Lucky for you, there’s tons of ways to start driving holiday sales now. How? Holiday Gift Guides.
A few things to think about:
Assortment, shipping and delivery terms
A boring, but important note. Stock up good and be extra clear what delivery times and shipping methods are. When is the last order date? Do they have to collect their package? When the last order date is. Perhaps extend your returns policy?
Focus on content
Use your products, but try to find new ways to present them. Include a short introduction describing your guide and make the most of it – for SEO and for the visitor. Create content that inspires your visitors, and use this as an opportunity to adding high-quality content to increase visibility as well. An advent calendar, publishing one offer per day is one good way to increase traffic and boost your sales for the holiday season.
Make it personal
Inspiration is key here, try to be a bit creative with your theme and make it look real neat visually. Personalize the content as much as you can. Who is your gift guide for? Work on your copy and make it work along with your theme and incorporate this segmentation in to all other channels.
Integrate social media
Use all your channels to boost your traffic and cross-post your content.Boost your gift guides with paid ads on Facebook and Twitter to reach out to new customers as well. Adding social sharing buttons to your product pages is another easy way to get your products in front of your customers’ followers on social media.
Give something back
It’s the holiday spirit after all. Use promotions such as free shipping or nisched order add-ons such as a personal christmas card, cute gift or free gift wrapping on holiday orders.
There are a lot of single and multi-brands online that do this really well. Today I got an email from Nike launching their holiday gift guide. They work really well with copywriting on ‘giving’, displaying their offers but most importantly the onsite segmentation and product display:
Clicking through to their site, I get to fill in a few options that shows me a curated selection of perfectly presented products.
If you’re looking for more inspiration, Mailchimp has partnered up with Facebook, Google, Twitter and Shopify in a series of Holiday Marketing tips.
It’s what’s on the inside that counts. But a great unboxing experience is another marketing tool you can use to make your customers happy, add a personal touch, improve the overall impression and customer service. It’s all about making your online business memorable. Compared to brick and mortar stores, you have less touch points to up-sell and impress customer, which is why you need to make every moment count. Creating a branded online experience will set you apart from competitors, since a memorable experience will hopefully make your customers come back.
The why’s and how’s:
One brand that works really well with the packing is fashion/beauty brand & Other Stories. The order comes in a neat box filled with silk paper and a set of smaller envelopes: one for “the little things”, one “filled with treasures” and a simple, but efficient, “thank you note”. Sometimes they also add some much appreciated samples.
As I’ve written before, the buyer’s journey is not a linear process and customers’ expectations and demand are only getting higher. Our customers are constantly connected. If you’re a brand with an online business, you need to learn how to deliver and reaching out at just the right time whether they’re looking to learn, discover, find, or buy. Because thanks to the mobile availability: we want things right, and we want things right away. In other words, we now turn to our mobile devices to act out on a need.
We’ve all got an endless supply of information literally on our fingertips and it allows us to make well-informed buying decisions long before we even interact with the brand behind the product. And customers are not just getting information on their phones, they are making decisions: exactly what to buy, where and for how much money they’re willing to spend. This decision making process can be both extremely short and long; at home, on the go or even in stores, but it’s almost always there. 93% of people who use a mobile device for research go on to make a purchase. New numbers from Google says that 50% of consumers who makes a local search on their phones end up visiting a store within the day, and 18% of those searches leads to a purchase within the day. And when in stores, 82% of smartphone users turn to their devices to help them make a product decision – and nearly one in four change their mind while waiting in the checkout line after doing so.
What can we learn from this? Online brands need to be present in the exact right moment of the decision making process.You should start seeing this as an opportunity to connect with a potential buyer. What information do you need to provide to be able to answer these questions: ‘What’s the best choice? Can I afford to buy this? Is it worth it?’
In 2015, e-commerce is all about relationships: service, shipping, visibility and personalization. From now on, measurable success in an e-commerce business will rely on finding new ways to reach, engage and keep your customers happy. Staying one step ahead of these shifts, and your competitors, will help lead to both retention and revenue. There are a few things I see in the digital landscape that will continue to have massive effect on an e-commerce business as a whole, and if you do not have them in place now, you must start thinking about the how. In other words: they’re not even trends anymore, but necessary for your business’ growth:
This has been on the top of everyone’s to-do-list for a few years now, so this will be no news: your site needs to be mobile-friendly. A good mobile experience is a huge part of the buyer’s journey – more consumers spend time researching products and making a decision to purchase on mobile devices than ever before. One third of e-commerce purchases are happening on mobile devices. Firstly, being visible in Google’s index, having clear navigation allows your customers to move between the awareness, consideration, and decision stages of the buyer’s journey with ease. The customer is both savvy and demanding, and wants instant access to information. If someone is not satisfied with their browsing and/or shopping experience, they’ll simply move on to the next ranked page in the Google results. Google’s mobile-friendly label will have even more impact. Google will start to take the responsiveness and ease of use of your mobile site into account for rankings. No matter how good your SEO or marketing is, if you’re not mobile-friendly, you will lose valuable ground.
E-commerce merges with brick-and-mortar aka The Omni-Channel Experience
Online shopping behaviour is not a linear process. As a retailer, you must be consistent and accessible across all channels, at all times. This means that your online brand experience must be consistent with all other marketing and purchasing channels – social networks, online stores, and brick-and-mortar stores. It’s clear, every channel your business appears on needs to be optimized and maximized. To have an integrated approach to social content in your channels is no longer optional – it’s crucial. Consumers expect not just a cohesive, unified brand experience across channels, but also the ability to segment different parts of this singular buyer’s journey through multiple platforms.
Shipping and Delivery
Growing bigger online means having the small luxury to ask “can we keep up with order demands?” – the key word being demand. The online shopper is demanding because they know they can shop at any time of the day, from anywhere. Your online shop must be able to meet these demands, or you’ll end up losing their business. A good system to gather and sort overnight or early orders must be seamless to ensure you’re able to fill those orders as soon as possible. If you can’t compete with this, you need to find other ways to stand out from your competitors. Good value, loyalty programs or excellent customer service. Always be transparent.
I know this all sounds theoretical, so I will post a few simple examples of how to implement this in your day-to-day operative work, as well as your digital strategy.